June 2016: Small Business Startup

Trillium Center for
Yoga and Health

From left, Shannon Miller, Terry De La Vega, and Jean Benvenuto stand in front of their business, Trillium Center for Yoga and Health, at 25 Market Street in Potsdam. Photo by Jason Hunter, NNY Business.

From left, Shannon Miller, Terry De La Vega, and Jean Benvenuto stand in front of their business, Trillium Center for Yoga and Health, at 25 Market Street in Potsdam. Photo by Jason Hunter, NNY Business.

THE INITIAL IDEA

Timing was everything for the founders of Trillium Center for Yoga and Health in Potsdam. Shannon Miller, an occupational therapist, and Terry del la Vega, a nurse practitioner, were passing the idea of opening a yoga studio back and forth and the concept even led them to checking out a location before it was tabled.
The idea, though, wasn’t far from their minds because they still believed that there was a need in Potsdam for not only a centralized yoga studio, but also a place for overall wellness.

“It’s a nice alternative to seeking wellness advice from the hospital,” Ms. Miller said. “Maybe people won’t wait until they’re sick to seek out services.”

Ms. del la Vega said that just having yoga available to Potsdam residents could promote wellness.

“I see a lot of people who have issues that are not being addressed by our health system,” she said. “They could really benefit from some physical activity and movement.”

Their idea came to fruition last winter after a chance meeting at Jernabi Coffeehouse with Jean Benvenuto, a former middle school teacher and yoga instructor at the Norwood Yoga Loft. And Trillium was born.

TARGET CLIENTELE

Trillium’s holistic approach to wellness makes it unique within Potsdam and the surrounding area because of the variety of healing arts services it offers.

“That’s starting to catch on,” Ms. Miller said. “It’s very innovative for Potsdam.”

Along with yoga, the center offers therapeutic massage, medical yoga therapy, counseling, spiritual counseling, Reiki, somatics, tai chi and acupuncture.

The range of services permits people to become proactive by taking control of their own health management by choosing what works for them, Ms. Benvenuto said.

In that same mindset, the center also provides a large variety of yoga classes, including chair yoga, hatha yoga, baby and me, a 50-plus yoga class, and vinyasa, among others.

“No one class is going to be right for everybody, but we’d love for everyone to come in and try it,” Ms. Benvenuto said.

A majority of their clients are professionals and women in the 40 to 50 age range, but they are seeking to raise awareness among younger women, particularly mothers, with public offerings like a Saturday community class in Ives Park in order to become more inclusive, Ms. del la Vega said.

THE JOURNEY

After meeting Ms. Benvenuto last winter, plans for the yoga studio went forward at lightning speed.

They completed a business plan by February and, with help from the Small Business Development Center, opened by August.

The timing was perfect this time around when they scouted the locations, coming up with a space that once housed the television section of Northern Music & Video.

“This had a better vibe,” Ms. Miller said. “We felt more connected.”

Finding yoga teachers to join their team also worked out much better than they had originally thought.

“People approached us when they found out there was a studio opening here,” Ms. Miller said. “It wasn’t very difficult.”

She said, for example, that they met their vinyasa instructor by chance at last July’s Summer Festival in Potsdam. Fifteen minutes after telling someone that they didn’t offer vinyasa, the teacher showed up with her husband at their booth.

“The universe provides,” Ms. Miller said.

Health service providers and North Country Tai Chi rent space at the center as well.

IN FIVE YEARS

During the past 10 months, Trillium has increased and experimented with its yoga offerings.

“Part of adding new things is about finding what works and what people are interested in,” Ms. Miller said.

Sometimes that means no one shows up for a class, but they will continue to try new classes that their clients are interested in, including considerations like a children’s yoga class that starts this month, or hot yoga.

“Hot yoga is a thing that everybody seems to be looking for,” Ms. Benvenuto said. “A lot of people that have practiced it have come out feeling rejuvenated.”

They also aim to be innovative with their offerings in a similar way to their Yoga-To-Go program, where teachers instruct at events like a reunion or a conference. The center presently has one scheduled with Jake’s on the Water, Brasher Falls, for a six-week session with the restaurant’s staff.

Future plans for the studio include a retail outlet, a juice bar, and potentially expanding the space to include two yoga rooms and two wellness rooms.

“I’d like to see Trillium be here and be thriving, sustainable and a fixture in Potsdam,” Ms. del la Vega said.

— Karee Magee